La Salle Sees Red at Cornell

La Salle lost another double digit second half lead at Cornell yesterday. Playing without junior center Vernon Goodridge the Explorers were hurt on the inside by Cornell's 7 footer big man Jeff Foote and lost to the Big Red 79-70.

In what has become something out of the movie groundhog day, La Salle saw themselves with a double digit second half lead and dominating a decent Cornell team. Like many games this year, head coach Dr. John Giannini saw his Explorers go into an offensive funk that has plagued the team time and time again and while it has not come back to bite them in every game it has pinned losses on them against good teams. It happened in the losses to Southern Mississippi and Florida State and it would happen at Cornell.

Playing without Goodridge, who sat out with bruised ribs, La Salle knew the Big Red would attack their defense with 7 foot big man Jeff Foote. They started the game doing just that but Cornell's inability to hit perimeter shots early allowed La Salle to easily double-team Foote and play off Big Red shooters. As Cornell struggled to hit shots La Salle raced out to an early lead. Fueled by solid ball movement and contributions from a variety of players, the Explorers would continue to hold Cornell at bay and entered halftime with a 38-27 halftime lead.

In the second half La Salle would collapse from Cornell ball pressure. After getting its largest lead 42-28 at the 18:28 mark, the Explorers would buckle to the defensive pressure and commit turnover after turnover. The defensive intensity from Cornell would bolster its offense and they began to hit perimeter shots and score the ball in transition. This opened up the middle as he would use his large frame to pound La Salle in the middle on his way to a game high 25 points. La Salle would have no answers for Foote and while he was having his way inside and the Explorers were turning the ball over offensively the lead was shrinking. Cornell would get their first lead of the game at the eleven minute mark on a jumper by Geoff Reeves and La Salle began to fall apart. As Foote continued to dominate, 6"6 shooter Ryan Wittman began to heat up drilling key outside shot after key outside shot. He also passed out of a double team and found Reeves wide open for the final back-breaking three-pointer.

The Big Red would hit the vast majority of free throws to seal the victory and La Salle would get their 5th loss of the season pinned on them in excruciating fashion. Kimmani Barrett led the Explorers with 18 points and recorded a double-double by also grabbing 12 rebounds. 6"8 forward Jerrell Williams committed an astounding 10 turnovers while also committing a terrible intentional foul on an inbounds play which allowed Cornell to pull away late in the game. The Explorers were outscored 51-28 after securing their biggest lead of the game. La Salle's next game will be Mount St. Mary's on Tuesday at Tom Gola arena.

Three Stars of the Game :

Third Star: Yves Mekongo Mbala
Second Star: Rodney Green
First Star: Kimmani Barrett

ExplorerHoopReport Most Valuable Player Award Standings for the Season

Kimmani Barrett – 19 points
Rodney Green – 15 points
Vernon Goodridge – 9 points
Yves Mekongo Mbala – 8 points
Jerrell Williams – 5 points
Ruben Guillandeaux – 2 points
Paul Johnson – 2 points